Two rankings from national outlets in 2021 put the state or Rhode Island in the bottom five of the country in terms of being a welcome place to start a business and in terms of the business climate in general.

CNBC rated the state 46th in the country for doing business, with aging infrastructure a chief concern. The upside is the state had ranked 50th in 2019.

“The Ocean State’s physical infrastructure remains dismal,” CNBC wrote, “but good broadband and a reliable electric grid pull it out of the cellar.”

The state received an F for the cost of doing business, access to capital, and the cost of living. It received D or D+ for infrastructure and the economy, and C or C+ for workforce, business friendliness, technology and innovation, and education.

The state also did not fare well compared to the other 49 for starting a small business. In a July 2021 rating, WalletHub ranked Rhode Island 48th in the country. The chief concern was in business environment, which is 48th.

None of the numbers were challenged by Rhode Island’s state treasurer. In a commentary piece in the Boston Globe, Seth Magaziner pointed out that the state has the highest rate of child poverty in New England, and is the only state in New England to be above the national average.

He called for significant investment in people to transform infrastructure and make the state an easier place to start and run a business. Focusing on clean energy would close the “digital divide” and provide thousands of construction jobs and a long-term improvement in the economy, he wrote.

“We must act with urgency and purpose,” Magaziner said, “and never settle for a position at the bottom of the pack.”

Debt Relief Options for Rhode Island residents

Those struggling with debt in Rhode Island would do well to look to the debt management program of InCharge Debt Solutions. InCharge’s credit counselors will work to lower interest and develop an affordable payment plan for all debts.

The goal is to help customers eliminate credit card debt in 3-5 years. However, clients must know they will have to follow a detailed spending budget to achieve that goal. InCharge takes one monthly payment and distributes that money to credit card companies in agreed amounts.

Consumers can apply over the phone or online. Credit score is not a factor in enrolling. Those with low credit scores can qualify for debt management plans.

Other assistance programs available to Rhode Island residents with financial problems:

  • Debt Consolidation LoanAn option for those with good credit scores. Debt consolidation is a personal loan borrowers use to pay off debt. Consolidating unsecured debts can reduce the interest rate on your debt, simplify the bill paying process and minimize the likelihood of suffering late fees.
  • Debt Settlement– A process that lets borrowers pay back less than they owe and is usually restricted to unsecured debts. Many debt settlement companies offer to reduce a borrower’s debt by up to 50%. However, the settlement process and negotiations can drag on for 2-3 years. In that time, late fees accrue and cut into savings. The debt settlement company will charge a fee for its services as well. Debt settlement is considered a severe negative on your credit report and stays there for seven years.
  • Credit Card Debt Forgiveness – This is offered by a select group of nonprofit credit counseling agencies. The difference between this and traditional debt settlement is that the creditors have agreed in advance to reduce the amount owed by 40%-50%. Consumers can start reducing the amount owed with the first monthly payment and eliminate the debt in 36 months.
  • Bankruptcy– A last-resort option, but one that should be considered because it could wipe out the debt. Bankruptcy will significantly drop the credit score for 7-to-10 years, which might make getting a home or car loan extremely difficult.
  • Do it yourself plans– If you are the kind of person who is adventurous and would like a do-it-yourself option, you might want to consider a DIY-style debt management program. The DIY option will assist you in crafting a plan that aligns with your personal needs financially.

Rhode Island Debt Resources

Debt relief is available in Rhode Island via several programs that can help those struggling financially. Among them:

  • Rhode Island Rental Assistance Program: Created to help those who were hurt during the pandemic, the program uses federal money to help residents avoid eviction. Funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including rent, utility costs or security deposits.
  • Mortgage Relief: A few New England banks have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to create the Mortgage Relief Fund. This program helps homeowners refinance their mortgage.
  • Rhode Island Housing Help Center: This group of nonprofit HUD agencies in the state offers a variety of rent, mortgage and foreclosure help.
  • RIRx: A program that helps state residents save money on prescription drugs. The RIRx card is free and offers discounts on generic and brand name medications.
  • Rite Share: An assistant program that helps Rhode Island families obtain health insurance, either through their employer or their spouse’s employer. Qualifying families can gain assistance for part or all of the employee’s share of premiums.
  • Child Care Assistance Program: Provides full or partial payments to childcare providers chosen by the family.
  • Rent Assistance RoadHome Emergency Housing Assistance (RHEHA): This program provides cash help to families and individuals at risk of eviction. RHEHA will give up to $1,200 to those eligible to help pay for the first month’s rent, mortgage payments or a security deposit.
  • Rhode Island Works Program: Provides grants and cash assistance (for example, $554 a month for a family of three) to help struggling families with a variety of bills, including emergency rental assistance, food and to pay utility bills.
  • Rhode Island Health Care Clinics: Nonprofit health care centers and community clinics will provide free and/or affordable health care to those in need.
  • Rhode Island Agency on Aging: Older individuals or their caregivers can receive assistance from programs focused on senior needs. Examples include discounted prescription medications, medical bill assistance, housing, food, transportation, and more.

Rhode Island Debt Statistics

Rhode Island ranks third in the country in state debt per capita, a fair way to measure debt because it is based on population and not the total debt. Rhode Island had average debt per person of $8,401 in June of 2021.

That is the debt of the state. When it comes to individual debt, the average mortgage debt in Rhode Island is $217,019, $12,200 less than the national average. The average student loan debt is $30,225, almost 20% lower than the national average of $36,389.

Rhode Island ranks 19th in the country in average credit card debt — $5,256 per person. The state’s poverty rate in a three-year average is 10.3%, 15th lowest in the country. It ranks 19th in per capita personal income at $50,313.

Sources

Magaziner, S. (2021, July 15) There’s still time to turn Rhode Island’s economy around. Here’s how. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/07/15/metro/theres-still-time-turn-rhode-islands-economy-around-heres-how/

McCann, A. (2021, July 20) Best & Worst States to Start a Business. Retrieved from https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-to-start-a-business/36934

NA (2021, July 13) Rhode Island. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/13/top-states-for-business-rhode-island.html

Cohn, S. (2021, July 13) Virginia is back as America’s Top State for Business in 2021. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/13/virginia-is-back-as-americas-top-state-for-business.html

Gagosz, A. (2021, July 13) Rhode Island rises to No. 46 in CNBC’s 2021 Top States for Business list. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/07/13/metro/rhode-island-rises-no-46-cnbcs-2021-top-states-business-list/

Morris, K. (2021, June. 25) THE STATES WITH THE MOST (AND LEAST) DEBT. Retrieved from https://www.zippia.com/advice/states-most-least-debt/

Stebbins, S. (2021, September 27) How Mortgage Debt in Rhode Island Compares to Other States. Retrieved from https://www.thecentersquare.com/rhode_island/how-mortgage-debt-in-rhode-island-compares-to-other-states/article_382f75a3-a6d4-5f9d-8b5e-bceaa5a6c53d.html

Tretina, K. (2021, August 9) Rhode Island Student Loans: Debt Stats, Repayment Programs and Refinancing Loans. Retrieved from https://studentloanhero.com/featured/rhode-island-student-loans-refinance/

Resendiz, J. (2021, July 9) Average Credit Card Debt in America: 2021. Retrieved from https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt